Saturday, February 26, 2005

A night at the Oscars

Tommorrow is going to be the night , when stars are gonna be on earth.

For india, there are two categories to be watched.The short film and the documentary.The short film(Live action) category has Little Terrorist and the documentary category has Born into Brothels a documentary on the childrens of prostitutes in Calcutta's red-light district.If you are saying who wants to know about the documentaries , then you must wait for the supposed appearence of Aishwarya Rai on the presentaion ceremony.

Touching the void the docudrama on the book,was in the pre nomination list in the documentary category, but didn't make it to the nomination list.And House of the flying Daggers is nominated for Cinematography

Another two awards that iam eagerly awaiting is the "Best Actor" and "Cinematography".My choice is jhonny depp and for Caleb Deschane(Passion of christ).By looking at how the oscars were awarded to the best actor's,Iam sure Jhonny depp will get the best actor this time.

Touching The Void

It is dark,you cannot see anything below you, but you know you are hanging at an height of 10,000 ft. Your leg is already broken from a fall, it is aching to the hips. you have been hanging there for a hour now.It is snowing and you are cold to the bone. You cannot go up or down on the rope, You cannot do anything, you are just waiting for your death. Your fear of death grows stronger with every passing second.To put an end to all your thoughts, suddenly the rope breaks and you go down into the abysmal darkness. You can feel the stars going out,wind rushing realize you are free falling ,falling faster than your thoughts. Before you realize anything,you stop falling, you dont know what is happening, you are buried in snow,you feel time has stopped and you are suspended in mid air.White flashes are bursting in your eyes,you keep loosing and gaining consciousness, That's when you feel you are touching the void.

The above was the experience of Joe simpson , the author of Touching the void. It is his survival story on a mountaineering expedition that went wrong. I came across this book when i was looking at different books related to peru, before my trip to peru.

Joe simpson and his climbing partner Simon yates decided to climb 21,000 ft high Siula Grande.To give an idea, Everest is around 30,000 ft and the dangerous K2 is around 29,000 ft. The Siula Grande is the second highest peak in Cordillera Huayhuas (range of mountains in central Peru).Till that point(1985), few people have climbed the siula grande from the north ridge. But nobody has done it from the west face, which Joe and simon were about to attempt.

Siula Grande

Joe and simon reach the summit after a lot of close calls. Things start's to go wrong during there descent (It seems 80% of the accident happen during the descent).Joe breaks his leg in an accident. A broken leg in mountaineering means death. Joe is afraid that simon might any minute tell him that he is going to descent alone. But simon decides to help joe and starts doing a one man rescue by bring joe down with the ropes.

At one point, they make a wrong decision to abseil when it was without knowing what is below simon lets joe down and joe is not able to find a holding at that point.It becomes a can't go up, can't go down situation. Simon who is holding the ropes at the top ,starts slipping on the powder.After holding for almost an hour.He had to make a decision. He knows that if he keeps holding the rope, he will also be dragged into a fall. So simon cuts the rope and descents alone. This decision stirred up a lot of debate when simon returned to england.

Joe miraculously survives the crash. Because of his broken leg, everything becomes difficult for him. He is not able to hop with one leg, because of the icy surface.He falls a lot and then get a crawling rhythm. The rest of the book is joe's struggles for survivle.He crawls for a few days and reaches the base camp the night before simpson was ready to vacate the base camp.

This is the jist of the story.But this is not a story , it is an experience that has to be lived in the mind.The way nature tests the climbers resolve, how they react to it is all amazing.joe does not take time to describe many of them as he describes the later part (after the crash) descriptively. For example, Joe who was descending behind simon, slips, his attempts to use his axe for hold fails and he falls, he dashes on simon who was below him and stops.He almost get's both of them killed.He becomes scared. It is almost night and it is very dark, simon says they should keep descending. Joe who just survived the crash and is shaken, shouts at simon for suggesting the idea of descending in the dark. They decide to dig a hole for there night camp. As the night falls quickly, it is getting colder every minute and they are trying to dig the hole ASAP.To add up to the miseries, simon's torch is not working .He starts repairing it with bare hands.joe who is not able to find the right spot digs a few holes which caves in.As joe is working he is little hot and is ok, but simon who is repairing the torch with bare hands is frost biten and get's annoyed seeing joe digging so many holes without any result. Joe thinks simon is behaving petulantly and ignores him. By the time the cave is dug, simon's hand are beyond repair and he is furious with joe for his lack of co-operation. This small incident is told in almost the same number of lines that i have told but when you stop and try to live those lines, you can feel another small book within those lines.

The books gives an insight into the minds of the climber and makes us take the trip with them.The very next day after the above incident, joe sees a glorious sun rise on the peak.After the near death experience, one has to tune his mind to enjoy these simplest pleasures and joe does that, he takes time to savour the sunrise.

Joe narrates another incident that simon had to face when he climbed the alps,simon and his partner are closely followed by another team compraising 2 japanese guys.At a point on the ridge the japanese guys slip and they fall with a big cry.simon and his partner hear the chilling cry and see the two guys who they saw in flesh and blood a few seconds ago fall beyond there eye sight. Again here you have to imagine the fear that might have come into them, there thoughts on the purpose of the climb, there questions "is it all to fall like this somewhere else?".There thoughts on how fortunate they are to survive the crash,The way they must have summoned all there courage to carry on with the expedition. All these and more thoughts are left for the user's imagination.

you have to be concentrating every second when you are on the mountains, a small slip of concentration might lead to death. Imagine you have reached the top and you are on a ridge.Now you have to walk on the ridge. You have to be very careful cause it is narrow and slippery. For protection you and your partner tie yourself with a lengthy rope.If the person moving in front slips and falls to the left side, you have to quickly jump to the right side. Otherwise both of you will be tumbling down on the left side. Walking on the ridge ,you encounter a cloud .The passing cloud totally blinds you, you are not aware were your partner is.Now if one of the partner falls, you have to make a split decision to jump on one side. Which side is the question?.

This is a very inspiring story of one man's survival against all odds.Joe has given a very true account of what had happened, there is no unnecessary descriptions etc.He just says things as it is.You can feel and relate to his thought process, When Joe breaks his legs this is what he thinks

Simon had said nothing about what he would do and i had been nervous to prompt him.In an instant an uncross able gap had come between us and we were no longer a team working together.

It struck me we were both avoiding the issue. For over 2 hours we acted as if nothing has happened. We both knew the truth, It was very simple. I was injured and unlikely to survive. Simon could get down alone. While i waited on his actions. I felt i was holding something terrifyingly fragile and precious. If i asked simon to help, I might loose this precious thing. He might leave me.

Also in the later part of the book, where he crawls miles and miles with a broken leg. All that he does during that time is talk to himself. His inner strength and resolve is amazing.

Joe Simpson

Joe gives a true account of the whole incident. Whether it is the fears that he faced or supporting simon's decision or telling about how he peed in his pants, everything comes straight from his heart.Joe after lot of medical attention resumed climbing. No one before or after these two climbers, have conquered the western face Siula Grande.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Nescafe Vs StarBucks

Me and my friend decided to meet in star bucks for a coffee, couple of days back.I had stopped drinking cofee for a while.But decided to drink one that day.The result, i was not able to sleep till 4am.The starbucks coffee is so strong that when ever i drink it, i can't sleep before midnight.I remember my days in india where i used to drink 2,3 cups of nescafe a day and still will be able to sleep.But here in US one coffee is enough to disturb my sleeping pattern and if it is from star bucks i dont have to keep an alarm to get up in the morning.I was wondering whether its just me or it is like that for everybody?.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

It's a Desi's Life

It was snowing when i got out of the house.I was on my way to work, admiring the hyperbolic curve the snow flakes make before they hit the wind shield’s.

I had to stop at a red light.i got the green and when i was about to move, a guy crossed the road. I was kind of annoyed with him as he was slowing me. I took the left turn and started moving in the opposite direction to him.My thoughts ran back to that jaywalker. He was a desi, i have seen him couple of times. He works somewhere in the opposite direction to my work. He always walks to work. Today also he was walking. It was snowing and all he had was a fleece jacket for his protection and it didn't even have a hood.I remembered his shoes. It wasn't a boot, it was not even a leather or a sport shoe. It is one of those kind that is made out of some kind of a cloth. He was walking with head down busy trying to get to work on time.

I started asking the question, Why is he walking in the snow?. My mind was rushing to fill the gaps.Maybe he is working with a desi consultant who is paying him meagerly. Or Could be this that he is trying to save some money to send back home , to get his sister married or pay for his dad's medical bills. Maybe he was layed off from his old company, he sold off all his possession and has just joined this new company, or probably he is just new to US and will soon be getting a car, he is just in those hard day’s of a desi life.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Music from the Baila country

My search for "Ahankara nagare" led to few other sinhalese song. The baila country famous for there peppy music is now making lot of innovative songs with ideas from bangara, rap , tamil /hindi film music. Some of the songs are tri lingual (tamil,sinhalese,english).

Ahankara Nagare is the hit single of the albumn Diviyapura (All my life) by Ranidu lankage.The female voice of Ahankara nagare is ashanthi.I checked out some of her other songs and she was great.She switches from sinhalese to english with ease. Check out the video (link works only in Internet explorer).Video is not of a great quality.

Ranidu & ashanthi

The other group that caught my attention was "Bathiya and Santhush".There latest album "Neththara – Project 4" is hot now. The song Neththara is a rhythmic number with a bangara feel and few punjabi lines.Check out more about the group here

Ranidu and Ashanthi

Monday, February 21, 2005

End of a search

I was listening to shakthifm a few weeks back. It is a tamil radio, but now and then they air sinhalese song. I happened to listen to one of the songs, it was so catchy, it reminded me of some other song that i have already heard but i wasn't sure. But the tune stayed in my mind. I tried searching for that song, but was not successful as i only new the ending 2 lines. I emailed the shakthi fm guys like 10 times, but never go any response. Then after a week or so they again aired that song, with some other sinhalese songs.i thought i would record it ,but before i could do that the song ended and in my efforts to record the song, i forgot to get the first line of that particular song. I again tried to get the name of the song in a few forums with the lines that i knew. But no success.

They again aired it yesterday.i first tried recording , again i failed. But i had time to get the first line. It was "Aahaa khara nagarey".I searched and searched but no success :(.There was no song like that.I was going crazy as i was repeatedly humming the 2 lines that i knew and i wanted to listen to the full song.

Then i saw a song called "Ahankara Nagare".I realized my mistake, i was assuming the small gap in the pronunciation of first word as two words. Then after lot of efforts i was able to download the song. It was awesome. I heard that all day yesterday :).After a long time i felt that special feeling when u hear a song that you wanted for hear badly.

Reminded me of my days of song searches in Chennai. It was the B.I(Before Internet) era. The only way to hear music is to go to the recording center and record the song or buy the cassette. When ever i hear a good rare SPB song, it will be in my mind like a bullet, i will be humming it repeatedly and will be restless till i get it. i will go to the oldest recording centers in ritchie street to get that rare song. Many a times you wont find those songs, But some times you will get lucky. When i come back home, I will shut myself in my room and will indulge in every cooing ,laughs and other improvisations of SPB.I will hear the song till iam tired and come out of the room with a sense of fullfilment/accomplishment.There is nothing to beat that feeling.

Gone are those days of compiling a selective list of song and recording. Now all u got to do is right click on the "A.r.rehman 1992-2005" folder in kazaa or DC++ and save.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Curb your Enthusiasm

I had to attend a class this weekend. The class was supposed to be for 2,3 hours followed by a test. I had to wake up early and i was already brooding about attending the class on a weekend. I was one of the few non-enthusiastic guy among a bunch of highly motivated people.

The guy on my right was the most enthusiastic of all. I forgot his name, let us call him rightie. He was asking all kinds of questions. The test started. It was an objective type question paper. Generally there were 4/5 multiple choices and you have to circle the right one, some of the questions where scenario's and you are supposed to answer on the scenario. As soon as i started answering, I heard noises from my right hand side. Rightie was writing something on the answer paper. It was a multiple choice question paper and this guy was writing a lengthy answer, i thought to myself, this guy is definitely passionate about this subject and he must be very knowledgable.

I thought he really liked that particular scenario off the first question and that's why he was writing a descriptive answer, but he started doing the same for the next answer also. I looked at the choices for the 2nd question. There were 5 choices 3 different outcomes of the scenario, 4th was none of the above and 5th all the above. Even after these choices he was writing something on the paper and he was writing as if someone asked 'Describe the rule of Emperor Ashoka ?' in a 20 mark questions category.I was wondering what possible on earth can he write after these choices.I was the first to complete the answers and rightie was the last. He wrote descriptive answers for almost all the questions.

I was already ready to go home. But the teacher said he wanted to discuss the answers for the question's. I thought this wont take that long and i should be driving back home in 30 mins.

Rightie was already jumping out of the seat to discuss the answers. To my left was a brother with high decibel levels. The teacher told the first answer. i was wrong .i looked left, leftie was also wrong, looked right, rightie was very sad, cause he was also wrong :).Rightie stood up and started arguing against the answer. He walked out of his chairs went to the space between the glass windows and the table and acted as 3 different people and 2 different objects to get his point across. He waved his hands , bent his body, did difficult facial expression to say why his answer was the right one.I was looking at my watch to go home and this guy was explaining his answer for 5 minutes followed by some pro and counter arguments by other enthu's. The teacher after listening to rightie calmly for 5 minutes rejected his idea and declared he was wrong. Poor rightie came back to the seat like a deflated balloon. I thought that will do it for him, he wont be arguing anymore.I was wrong, he turned out to be a brother of gazhni mohammed.

Leftie who was silent all the while, started to speak. He spoke so loud that i was looking at the glass windows on my right hand side with fear. I am sure he might have made a small crack...
From then on when ever he spoke i was looking at the glass, as me and rightie were close to it.It is another thing that i became little deaf on my left hand side for couple of hours. Rightie's answer were wrong one after the another. Even i had some right answers, but not poor rightie. Rightie was so enthusiastic that everybody thought he is going to be the top scorer. But rightie ended up doing face saving measure like."Ohh is it soo". "i didn't know that one"."when did they change that?" etc.The evil in me came out as a smirk.

I guess i would have also been as enthusiastic as my neighbors if i was passionate about the subject like them. But i wasn't and i was viewing everything with a humor glass.

Then the teacher started talking and started explaining some rules. It got boring as my neighbors were silently listening to the lecture. I entertained myself by scribbling on the paper.

My view of my teacher

Teachers view of me

It was very booooooooooring

The lecture ended and i was the first one to rush out. ohhh I forgot to say something. Remember the 2nd question?. 5 choices, 3 choices on scenario, 4 th none of the above and 5 th was all the above. The teacher asked what everybody answered. Asking everyone to raise their hands for those who answered a, b, c, d, e respectively. Rightie didn't raise his hands for any answer. When the teacher asked rightie, he said the choices for the scenario were not correct. So he included 2 more choices and answered one from the two added choice.I was looking at him with grinding teeth and red eyes.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Da Vinci Code

Finally read the much talked about book. It was good. Dan brown seemed like a mix of Michael crichton and Robert Ludlum.The book was very interesting on some aspects like the plot, the information and historical explanations regarding the various puzzles of the story. But brown seemed to have concentrated more on explaining things rather than making the chase and action sequences interesting. He also lacked in narration skills.

The story starts with the murder of Jacques Sauniere curator of a French museum, the murder trail brings together Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon and police cryptologist Sophie Neveu. Trying to solve the cryptic words, leads langdon and sophie on the trail for the holy grail. yes the same one that comes in Indiana jones and the last crusade. But the grail turns out to be an entirely different thing.

Chased by the french police and the church people who want to get the grail first, sophie and langdon have to go through some 'Drop your guns or else i will shoot this person' scenes.The novel is very intresting when it comes to solving the crypts and there are quiet a few of them in the story.After some twists and turns at last langdon finds the place were the grail is hidden.

That's the story in a nut shell, there is a lot more to it than this,but didn't wanted to revealed any suspense’s or the intresting parts.It is very gripping and pacy at times and boring and repetitive at some places. But dan brown like michael crichton breaks down things to the smallest bit and explains things very clearly. There is a plethora of interesting information in the book, from da vinci to jesus.

The best thing about the book is explaining Christianity from a scientific and historical point of view rather than a religious one. Some of your basic knowledge of Christianity is in for a rude shock. This book is much talked about because of what it is saying about Christianity. how much of what dan brown told is true?, is a thing to debate. I have already heard some of the things revealed in the book like jesus was married. Oh did i say 'married'? well that's just the tip of the iceberg. Read the book there is more. After reading the book you will want to look at the Da vinci's Last supper and will be wondering how much of the things told in the book is true.

As i have joined the privileged bunch of people now. i can ask that famous question to you all.
You havn't read 'The Da vinci code'??.

Born Into Brothels

Yesterday eagerly went for the screening of Born into brothels here in dc.The freer gallery site said the tickets are free and can be collected an hour before.i went there an hour before only to find that the tickets should be reserved upfront and that it was late.not only were the tickets sold out, there were around 100 people waiting outside without tickets.

Excluding the considerable amount of desi population present for the screening.This oscar Nominated documentary has surely generated lot of intrest.

I missed it.Guess i have to wait for its release in netflix.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

creative blogs

yesterday i browsed some creative blogs.

i stumbled upon the blog of Meenakshisankar ,a nice blog of poems.I started with a beautiful poem called Dhagam(thirst)and iam still reading poems from his blog.

i checked out the new composition of srikanth, Reminiscence.It was above my musical knowledge,but i liked Sundi Ezuthal its a very pacy number.
His 80s in Chennai has been my favourite since he posted it in tfmpage.Check out his songs here

Beautiful photographs by fred

Monday, February 14, 2005

Dinner and a Movie

Yesterday i spent the evening TBS Superstation style, 'Dinner and a movie'.My choice of dinner was shrimp curry and movie was 'Kisna'.I made great choice as far as the shrimp curry was concerned, the movie turned out to be a chinese water torture*.I couldn't have spent the evening in a more pathetic way.

I started cooking the shrimp curry by frying some onion first. subash ghai started the movie with a story line similar to TITANIC, even the music sounded so close to titanic, I double checked to see whether subash ghai bought James Horner to score for his movie, but the DVD said the MD’s as ismail darbar and a.r.rehman.A old english lady named catherine comes to india with loads of money to donate. After a while she starts her flash back in 1935 when she was a kid.

Then i added tomato, subash ghai added the common story that comes in any desi movie where a rich little girl(the old lady) and a servant boy grow up together. I dont think i have to say who that little boy is.This kid comes with a long hair and a head band, you know why?. Cause when he grows up he becomes vivek oberoi who looks like Yanni's younger brother. so in order to be consistent and so that dumb audience can relate that this kid is oberoi he sports a long hair and a head band. They some how forgot to put a mustache and beard for that kid.


Then i added the important ingredient shrimp, subhash ghai added LAAGAN story. The girl who leaves india when she was a child, comes back as a gorgeous looking lady.she comes back and says that she still remembers the sweet sound that flowed from young oberoi alias 'Kisna' flute.

I forgot to tell about lucky vivek's other love, another gorgeous loooking lady(Isha Sharvani)who is madly in love with Kisna.Poor isha sharavani, half of the time she is shown, she is hanging up side down on a rope like a bat. 1/4 of the time she is hanging straight and 1/4 th of the time she is dancing. isha who usually hangs on the rope with red dress, in a scene when she is very sad, hangs with black dress, a very touchy scene :(.

Actually there is a technical innovation introduced by subash ghai here. Rather than your usual view of looking at the bottom of the screen or the center of the screen for the characters, when ever isha comes u automatically tend to watch the top part of the screen as she will be hanging from the top.I got so used to it that even in normal scenes if there was no person in focus i was looking at the top part of the screen, scanning deep into the trees in the scene looking for traces of isha.I wonder how subash ghai would have auditioned for this role.

I added spices, ginger garlic etc to spice up the curry, gai added some dance, fight etc. people burn catherines house and she is on the run.Off course MGR vivek oberoi comes at the right time and saves her and runs with her all through out the movie. But most of the time he is out smarted and someone takes catherine away from him. He on the other hand ends up chasing a car, police van, horse etc. This is exactly where the genius of subash ghai comes, he stretches the story as far as possible with out any thing to convey. Catherine and kisna disguise as muslim people end up at sushmitha sen's place so that the audeince can watch a song and all the smokers can take a break. After some sholay type chasing kisna and catherine end up in a god forsaken temple without any transportation. When you wonder how they are going to get out of that place,comes one of the villain’s henchman in a jeep.He comes to the temple, shoots kisna at point blank range and misses, kisna kills him and takes the jeep.

At last i added some chill’s to give the ultimate spiciness to the curry and gai added layers of hai ram. kisna and catherien are caught in midst of a Hindu Muslim riot and again catherine is taken away by the police and vivek end up chasing the police van.

I knew that the shrimp was cooked, i simmered and covered the pan. Ghai on the other hand...., Ghai on the other hand....,Ghai on the other hand...., damn i saw the movie like an hour ago and i don’t remember what was the climax. oh ok. got it.vivek safely escorts catherine to some British officers. Catherine asks vivek to come to england, you know what vivek would have said don’t you.....

vivek says that he has to be with isha to whom he is engaged and delivers the punch line of the movie "judaai be tho ek pyaar hai"( parting is also love). Time for you to have some goose bumps and after some romantic and patriotic rhetoric, when you start to bleed from your goose bump scratching, kisna walks into sunset. Hold on , its not over yet the shrimp is still simmering. The old lady who was narrating the story so far comes out of the flash back and every one who was hearing the story have exactly one tear drop in there eyes.

catherine comes to know that kisna died a few years ago and that he asked the family members to immerse his ashes in a certain place.It is a river bed where he embraced catherine, dressed like madakhini in 'Ram theree ganga meli'.Because that was supposed to be the place where there souls interchanged. The movie ends with a note that catherine also has asked to immerse her ashes in the same place where she was dressed like mandakhini, sorry where her soul mingled with kisna.

There is a place that comes thousand times in the movie. A very nice location. A hill edge with protruding rocks. In the end like stabbing an already dieing man subash ghai comes and stands in that rock, one leg forward looking at the horizon with the info 'A film by subash ghai'.I wished i was there dressed up like stallone in rambo 3. i would have pumped 5,10 rounds of bullets into this guy. Or otherwise push him from that protruding edge and stand at the same position with leg forward looking at the sunset.

This movie looked more like an attempt from ghai to serve the foreigners with a musical bollywood movie.It has beautiful costumes, locations, photography, songs etc, but not even a trace of good story or screen play. I am deeply sorry for not mentioning the other english/hindi movies from which this movie was copied/Inspired. Over all a thorough comedy movie if viewed with shrimp curry.

Chinese torture
you are tied spread eagle on a bed in a small room. The room will be completely dark and absolutely scilent. you can only stare into the endless darkness and yet not see anything. The torture consists of a hospital drip filled with water above your head. The water slowly drips out of it and onto your forehead. Each time the water drips it hits the same place on your forehead, it gets very annoying fast. Absolute silent and with occasional spat of a water droplet on your fore head. If left alone for more than 15 hours, people tend to go crazy.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Crossing the Rubicon: The Shaping of India's New Foreign Policy

Crossing the rubicon my C.Raja mohan, the Strategic Affairs Editor of The Hindu is an account of how india has changed its perspective interms of foreign affairs.How india has adapted to the unipolar world after the collapse of the soviet union, how it has found its own standing in the international arena, shedding the anti imperialistic and third world champion attitudes.

The book is divided into 10 chapters, there is a chapter for USA,russia,china and pakistan. In a given chapter he gives the histroy of india's relation with that country, how every prime minister from nehru to vajpayee handled the affairs with those country.He also gives different views about the relation as perceived by india and other countries.And also gives some pointers on how things should be handles in the future.The rest of the chapter is on how india has to use it's geographical location as an advantage interms of foriegn affairs and how it should deal things in the future.

Talking about how india was trying to follow china's example , he quotes chinese premier Deng's advice to the foreign policy makers of china
watch and analyse (developments) calmly, secure (our own) positions, handle (changes) with confidence, conceal (our) capacities, be good at keeping low profile, never become the leader and make some contributions.
The book gives lot of insight into the contribution of various prime minister's. The more i read about india's foreign affairs and politics my admiration for P.V.Narashima rao is growing.He is the person who changed india's destiny, without much of a fuss.Whether it is the nuclear bomb, or economy or changes in foreign affairs it all points to P.V.Narashima rao.

P.V.Narashima rao's predecessor rajiv gandhi tied india's nuclear disarmament with US and other nuclear powers. He was calling for total abolition of nuclear arms.But the world changed when P.V.N became the prime minister, he inherited an economy that was nearly broke,there was no soviet union to support,and the US fresh from its gulf war victory was strutting as the only super power of the world.In 1992 the UN security council passed a resolution stating that proliferation of nuclear and other wepons of WMD is a threat to international peace and security.US and other western nations where warning india, the list topper among the countries likely to acquire nuclear weapons that it has to face the wrath of the entire international system if it did not fall in line.
P.V.Narashima Rao and his principal secreatary J.N.Dixit, understood that the moment of nuclear reckoning was at hand.They knew they had to summon all the intellectual guile to wriggle out of the situation.India could not have found diplomats more wily than these two.

Bush senior asked india to join a conference of 5 nations with US,Russia,china and pakistan to discuss nuclear non-proliferation in the subcontinent.
Negotiating framework proposed by bush was deeply offencive to india's sense of standing.Not only would the confrence concentrate on getting india and pakistan to behave on the nuclear issue, but their conduct was going to be supervised by washington,moscow and beijing sitting at a higher table.The ultimate insult was that china,which india saw as an equal , was to become a guarantor of peace and stability in the sub continent.This was a china that india knew helped pakistan acquire nuclear weapons.In no way was india going to accept such a set of negotiations.

In typical fashion, narashima rao was non commital.pointing to the political difficulties at home, he said that he would prefer to discuss the problem in detail with the united states bilaterally before he could join multilatral nuclear negotiations.It was agreed that bilateral nuclear talks would begin within few weeks.

Having found an escape route at a critical moment,Narasima Rao launched india on a two track policy - engage the americans in a nuclear dialouge and prepare for conducting nuclear tests.The first was a visible track and the second invisible.Narashima rao gave orders to the atomic energy establishment in bombay to get ready for another round of nuclear tets, but the scientists wanted time-at least 2 years.Meanwhile, the pressure from the united states was relentless.'Buy me time' was the constant refrain from narasima rao to dixit.The foreign office bobbed and weaved and found every trick in the diplomatic book to avoid getting into multilateral negotiations on the nuclear issue.In the talks india invented arguments for expanding the multilateral negotiations framework to include every possible country from israel to japan.

Buy December 1995 india was ready for pokhran -2 .Narashima rao had achieved the impossible.He had managed to fob off the various international pressure on india to close its nuclear option.The economy, formerly the weakest element in the country's portfolio, had turned around and was now an attractive feature that created the basis for a different relationship with the world.In addition he was ready to conduct nuclear tests and hence put india in a different strategic pedestal.
It's a differnet story that US found india's preparation for a nuclear test and rao had to pull the plug on the supposed tests in 1995.But raja mohan agrees that PVN was the one who prepared everything for india to cross the nuclear rubicon.

This book is a definite read for anybody who is intrested in india's foreign policies .

Rao True father of Indian bomb
shekhar gupta's Interview with PVN
Rao the Nuclear Architect

Thursday, February 10, 2005

India : A country without borders

This news made me laugh and worry at the same time.How bad does it have to get , before some one does something about the bangladesh border problem.
Bangladeshi settlers refuse to leave missile-testing zone in Balasore
The Indian government has asked over 1,500 Bangladesh nationals, living in its eastern coast for decades, to leave the country despite protests. Many of these are living at Balasore near Chandipur, a high security zone used to test missiles. Authorities claim that only a handful of Bangladeshis had been allowed to settle in, but their numbers increased manifold as they brought in relatives and other village folk.
Read more about it here.

The border problem with bangladesh is getting worse every day and the central govt and the military seems to be sleeping over this issue. As if the population of the country is already less, we welcome all these people with open hands. How worse should it get to realize the problems of the illegal immigrants. Asia times reports about this ticking time bomb.
The steady flow of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh has significantly altered the region's demographic complexion, particularly in the border districts of West Bengal and Assam, and with important political implications. In Assam illegal migrants affect state politics in a major way, having acquired a critical say in an estimated 50 of the state's 126 assembly constituencies. Read more about it here.

Bangladesh is not the only problem, we seem to have border problems with every neighboring country.We seem as a country without borders. The Maoist rebels have been gun running on the india,nepal borders and are bold enough to support anti-india activities
It was only a matter time before the resourceful Nepali maoists made links with maoist groups on the Indian side. Recently, long divided Indian maoist groups have agreed to wage a united campaign against the Indian state, and Nepali maoists have pledged to lend their full moral and strategic support to this cause. Read more about it here.

The current nepal situation may lead to refuge situation.It is another story that india has been the providing refuge for the tibetians for 5 decades now. The ULFA was using the Bhutan border for its insurgent activities till now, before rajiv gandhi's assassination south india was the LTTE's background and off course there is always Kashmir. Where now infiltration is going on in a another level. They just cross the border and buy citizenship.

what will it take for the indian govt and the military to secure our borders, didn't we learn anything from the kargil war??

Is India a WUSS nation??

Patix has asked a great question in his blog

Is India a wuss nation? My thoughts on that.

Yes we are a WUSS nation. We are a super WUSS nation.

India became a nuclear power in 1974, but still had area occupied by pakistan, a non nuclear country till 1998.I Just don’t understand , why would you become a nuclear power on the first place, if you don’t want to exercise your might.You dont have to nuke them, at least should have pursued a coercive diplomacy. After 24 yrs pakistan tested a nuclear bomb and within months threatened to nuke india.China beautifully boxed india within the subcontinent by making pakistan a nuke power.But india,forget giving nuclear assistance to Taiwan, we are peeing in our pant's even to open a embassy there.

Yes It's a shame that Dawood ibrahim is still alive and Telecommuting for work in bombay, so is Maulana Masood azar who frequently does courtesy calls to kashmir.Its just not terrorist, guy's like Warren anderson the Ex CEO of union carbide, was able to kill around 20,000 people in the Bhopal gas tragedy but still lead a happy life in US.These guys should be pursued and punished.

This WUSS ness is probably in every indian who is considered "gentle and patient".When the IC 814 was hijacked, all the news televisions where beaming pictures of family members crying, protesting to release the terrorist etc. Nobody was talking about not negotiating with terrorist or striking the terrorist. If it would have been the case in israel, you wouldn't have seen that outburst asking for the release of terrorist. In china or USA the media would have been controlled and orchestrated to make people believe that striking the terrorist is the right thing to do.

Like an indian ,a common chinese citizen also is a "gentle and patient" person.But the chinese govt is not.The reason being that there military and foreign affairs are not influenced by a frequent regime change or vote banks. They have a defined policies in terms of there security and foreign affairs and they stick to it. India still hasn't defined a self interest foreign policy.

It all started with Gandhi and nehru. They dreamed a world where every thing could be achieved by ahimsa. Maybe it worked at that time, but not today. We cannot carry the identity of the land of mahatma, the land of ahimsa/non-violence etc in the current world.Today the language of power/ might and violence speaks more than peace or non-violence.The Dalai lama's of the world who cannot preach violence but want a peaceful land of there own are long forgotten but the yasser arafat's who bomb and kill to get there piece of land get to mediate with the American presidents. We cannot follow the Mahatma's principle, when our neighbors are pursuing machiavellian principals.

check out nitin's blog on this

Saturday, February 05, 2005

why why why?


Why on earth would they remake a beautiful movie like "Manichithra thazhu" in tamil with rajini in the lead and direction by P.vasu.This story does not have any rajini material in it.How could someone like rajini do justice to "Mohan lal's" acting, they are the opposite sides of the acting spectrum .Only in kerala can a movie like "manichithra thazu" could be made as a main stream movie and run for an year , for tamil audience and rajini fans, this movie will be polluted thoroughly.

This is a typical Malayalam movie where the heroine gets as much scope as the hero. That is not it, there are lot of things about the movie that does not fit into a rajini movie formula.

1.Mohanlal entry into the movie is only after an hour or so.
2.There is no duets or fights for mohanlal.
3.There is pretty much no romance, except for 2 scenes in the end.
4.The movie is a beautiful merger of Psychology and the village customs, blind belief’s.The story kind of becomes surreal with the tamil dancer naga valli character.

Things will definitely be not the same in chadhramukhi.if i have to guess
1.Rajini's entry will be done within the first 20 mins.
2.There will be an entry song. where rajini comes to the village singing and dancing with the farmers in the field. At least one fight, for that an external villan character will be introduced into the story.
3.There should be minimum 3 songs for rajini. At least 2 duets.
4.The movie will be made into a perfect masala. I hope they wont add an erotic dance song.

Manichithra thazhu is a great movie, It is yet another classic of fazil, a near perfect movie. The movie gives enough scope for every one to show there talents. Whether its mohanlal, shobana , suresh gopi, nedumudi venu or thilakan. Shobana got the presidents award for "manichithra thazhu" and "Thenmavil kombathu" in 1994.Her performance in this movie is outstanding, she plays the role of “Ganga” and her split personality “Naga valli” . There are scenes where, she shows her transformation from one person to the other , just with her eyes. I don’t know how someone like jyothika is going to do this role. Someone got to tell dumbo P.vasu that having big eyes shouldn’t be the only qualification to do the role of shobana.
At least iam happy on the fact that kamal is not doing chandramukhi. Otherwise he would have changed the story in such a way that the hero will be the split personality. He will come in 2 roles with 2 different makeups and all the other characters including prabhu will come only in 2 scenes and kamal would act 2hrs 20 mins of the 2hr 30 mins movie.

I hope rajini will play down the heroism and do little bit of justice to the original version. Laloo's like P.Vasu should stop remaking the very few original movies like manichithra thaazhu.This is a disgrace to the original movie and chandramukhi will only end up giving a distraught and bad image about the original.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Time of the Hero

After reading the book.I started wondering how they still havn't awarded the literature nobel prize for Mario Vargas Llosa.This guy is awesome and this book is a great novel with a brilliant style, structure and technique.Felt like one of those imaginary novels of "Jorge Luis Borges". This novel is a mile stone in latin american literature, a study in narrative technique.

The story can be told in a few lines. But it will take more than that to tell the narrative technique. This is another of vargos novel which doesn't follow the linear narration style.

The novel was titled 'La cuidad y los perros' which means 'The city and the dogs‘. But somehow they have chosen 'The Time of the hero' as the english title. The main theme happens within the military school in lima city,peru and dogs is the derogatory word given to the first year students of the military school.

The main story starts with 4 charecters Cava, Jaguar, Gamboa, Poet who have formed an in group called 'The circle' in the military school. Jaguar is the most ruthless guy and the leader of all, slave another important character in the novel is the weak and coward one. Cava who is sent to steal the chemistry examination paper for the circle, breaks the window and everybody knows that the paper is stolen, a group punishment is given to all the students, there weekend visits to home are cancelled. When everybody keeps silent arana who wants to keep his date with a neighborhood girl that he is madly in love with ,identifies cava to the commanders. Jaguar who hates squealers and peasants(cava) promises to take revenge. Later in a military exercise arana/slave gets shot.

Alberto/poet who becomes friendly with arana before his death, is in a moral dilemma to speak out or not on who killed arana.Later he complains to the commanders that it was not an accident and that it was done by jaguar.The military school which does not want to tarnish it's image amongst the public is happy to declare it as an accident. When jaguar realizes his mistake and admits it, it is too late as the military school has already closed the file as an accident. So nobody gets punished and the cadets pass out and go in different directions.

I have given the gist of the story without revealing the suspense.It might look pretty ordinary, but the narration and the story development is brilliant.The main charecters are alberto and jaguar.Alberto is the fully developed charecter in the novel, all the other charecters are not shown completely.The reader is made to take the side of alberto rather than jaguar through out the story, but in the end jaguar who was potraied in a bad light turns out to be a better character than the poet, making us realise the dangers of "ASSUMED TRUTH".

Alberto is the most complex character, he is a mixture of lot of things. For example he understand his friend slave's pain of not able to meet his love, he agrees to take his letter to his lover, but when he meets her, he asks her out on a date betraying his friend. Slave even though week is the only righteous character of all. The childhood thread on the slave make us feel pity for him when he his life is ended abruptly.

The narration is done in different perspectives over different time periods. The novels switches between past & present , school and city, military school friends & neighborhood friends, raw sex in the school & the experiences of first love, children’s & men. The present narration is done from a third person perspective. It switches to first person narrative for alberto. Simultaneously three threads in the past are narrated. The past threads are about three peoples in the school. Two person identity are revealed as the poet and the slave and the other person say X is not revealed till the end. When the story switches to past it changes to third person narration for alberto/poet and first person narration for X. Everybody in the school has a nick name and the original name is not used except for alberto/poet and arana/slave.Of the 3 stories that run in the past The X character's real name is used. But we dont know what is the nick name for him in the present. The identity is revealed only at the end which adds more meaning to the character in the present. The story which was switching between past and present talks a bit about the future and ends.

The story is little confusing at the start, as we have to come into grips with the juxtaposition of the view points and time. Three characters love the same woman but with diff names as therea,terese and tere.The narration in the past don't reveal the character’s current nick name for a while adding to the confusion. There are different threads with different plots, some off them add meaning to the larger story and some off them die off without adding any meaning to the larger story.

Reading the book is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. A big story scattered over time and perspective.It has to be identified and constructed into a beautiful image. The puzzle fixing is left to the reader. A great book. If you ever read it, read it slowly and very carefully.

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